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How the Shift to Mobility & Location-Based Services is Changing Hospitality & Guest Services.

Mobility trend in Hospitality

A recent TripAdvisor survey found that over 40% of travelers use their smart phones to plan a trip and over 46% use their smart phones to enhance their trip while traveling.

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No longer is it just an idea or an aspiration for the hospitality industry to use innovative methods to engage with their guests, for example Marriott Hotels, just this year, announced the addition of mobile checkout to its industry-leading Marriott Mobile app for smartphones. Clearly mobile check-out is just the latest innovation from the brand as a new service designed for today’s connected travelers. Read More »

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Mobile Retail Evolution and Location Based Services

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This is part of a series of how location services is a core part of the mobile evolution in various industries. In a previous post I looked at the growth of mobile  location, data and context based advertising, and there is no doubt from the evidence that this market space is already big, and predicted to grow exponentially over the next 4 or 5 years.

While this is very interesting at a macro level, for most of us what does that really mean, what can it be used for, how can we get some value or benefits from it….

Let’s look at this from the point of view of various industries, both looking at the uses of the consumer and of the business in a practical manner.

Today we look at the Retail Industry, and ask a few questions to understand the landscape.

  • How are consumers habits changing
  • What are retailers doing about this
  • What can we expect to see in the coming year(s)?

How are consumer habits changing?

We already know that today over two-thirds of all U.S. consumers have a smartphone (expected to be >90% in about 3 years) and the capabilities that this brings is changing the face of retail business as we know it. Specifically looking at mobile retail and advertising the patterns are undeniable, we as mobile retail consumers are doing things differently and happy to engage and be engaged in new ways.

◦    Remember the coupon cutting days…well mobile coupons are starting to become the norm…recent research among mobile users shows significant numbers redeemed mobile coupons… 41% at grocery stores, 41% at department stores, and 39% @ clothing stores (source: Business Insider 2014) Read More »

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Omnichannel Is Changing How You Do Business – Sort Of

This is the final installment of a series on how retailers can address the challenges of becoming an omnichannel business. I’d like to wrap up by talking about a deceptively simple stumbling block – accepting that being an omnichannel seller changes how people work.  I spend much of my time talking to retailers, and this really is a big issue.

For example, I have seen stores install – and then turn off – Wi-Fi deployments because they worry that associates will waste time surfing the web. And, yes, some might. But consider the cost compared to customers knowing more than your salesforce because they’ve been doing online research. It makes your team look uninformed, lowers the quality of service, and impacts sales. Obviously, you don’t want workers to play games all day. Instead, train them to find and use online product information, social media, and reviews that will help improve response to customers – and deal appropriately with the exceptions.

Related to this are issues around Wi-Fi access for customers. If you provide it for employees, please just go ahead and extend this to shoppers. Universal store access allows you to optimize your brand with both employees and customers (and enables far more effective analytics). I guarantee that you will lose relevance over time as consumers learn your store is one of the few without mobile service.

As well, I’ve met retailers who won’t add Wi-Fi because they are convinced that the only outcome will be showrooming and ultimate desertion. It’s time to shed the fear of this increasingly common customer practice. Instead, leverage it as a new marketing tool. You can drive sales by being part of the customer’s social media experience, delivering your own identity, branding, and incentives. A recent Accenture study shows that younger consumers still want the in-store experience, but they also expect retailers to integrate personalized shopping across all channels.

Let’s talk more about this at the NRF Big Idea Sessions in New York, where I and Jon Stine, Lisa Fretwell, and Kathryn Howe will be speaking on Jan. 13 and 14.  Visit Cisco’s NRF website to learn more about these popular seminars, and stop by Cisco Booth #1954 to say hello.

The idea of omnichannel selling can be daunting, and getting the benefit may entail learning to manage a certain amount of risk. But you know – it’s just retail. The environment is becoming more device-driven and the way stores look is changing. But giving consumers what they want; interacting with, understanding, and nurturing them: It’s still the business of retail. And you know how to do that.

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It’s About Retail, Not Technology

Hello, and welcome to my inaugural blog! I am happy to be here sharing my thoughts and experiences with you, because I have to tell you: I have the coolest job in the world.

I’ve spent my entire life in retail, starting as a part-time worker while in school and moving up through merchandising and operations to regional vice president at Shopko Stores, Inc., overseeing the work of 12,000 employees. Over more than 20 years, I fell in love with the whole process of retail. When I was invited to work in the retail technology sector, it seemed a natural extension of the work I was already doing. Relatively few tech companies build their solutions around store needs – too often, they tend to focus on technology for technology’s sake. In fact, sometimes retailers do the same thing! I saw an opportunity to impact how vendors – and retailers – think about technologies that truly add value to the business.

Today’s trend toward mobility, or BYOD, is a great example. I’m sorry if this shocks you, but mobility without a strategy has no value at all for the retailer! I have seen stores invest in Wi-Fi networks while continuing to build cell-based apps – this despite Wi-Fi’s higher speeds, more flexible capabilities, and ability to improve the shopping and selling experience. They don’t want employees surfing the Internet, so they block employee access to the network and information that could help improve sales. They understand that shoppers are “showrooming” – sharing opinions and comparison shopping online from the store – but do not leverage the same behavior to promote products and analyze customer trends.

Mobility is a vehicle for improving the business, an extension of overall strategy. (You might like to check out this Lippis Report on “Monetizing Public Wi-Fi in Business to Consumer Relationships.”) I work with companies to help determine how to use such vehicles to define the customer experience, collect and manage large masses of data, and make store operations more efficient. I also help design the Cisco solutions that solve these retail business problems.

Join me on a journey to learn how stores are approaching, managing, and dealing with today’s innovations and how they are meeting customer needs. We’ll talk about how stores are using today’s systems, the most recent trends, the latest research, and how retailers are dealing with this very rapidly changing industry. Please get back to me with your own stories and questions in the comments section.

One more word: I love retail trivia! Comment if you know the answer to this question: What retailer in the country has the highest amount of sales per square foot of its stores?

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On Demand: Boost Revenue, Build Loyalty in Your Retail Venue

Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences is a new solution that helps enable retail organizations to use Wi-Fi location services to deliver engaging store experiences and generate valuable shopper insights. Our industry-specific webinars so far break down use cases for Connected Mobile Experiences for airports/transportation and retail..with  more coming soon.

Our latest CMX webinar on demand is specific for retailers: “Boost Revenue, Build Loyalty.”

View this 45-minute on-demand video webcast to learn how to captivate your shoppers with new mobile apps supported by Cisco Connected Mobile Experiences. Discover how real-time location intelligence from your wireless network can enhance customer loyalty, improve store operations, and help you:

  • Deliver a personalized in-store shopping experience that increases customer intimacy
  • Provide important information at critical purchase decision points Read More »

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